Screen for diabetes, say doctors

Rich countries including Britain should screen groups at high risk of developing diabetes to prevent an epidemic of the condition from crippling healthcare systems across the world, doctors have warned.

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) said that much of the problem was caused by doctors who were complacent over the need for blood glucose control in people with the form of the disease that does not depend on insulin injections, Type 2 diabetes.

This complacency was being passed to patients who were often poorly motivated to monitor their conditions.

Professor George Alberti, the president of the IDF, called on affluent nations to screen vulnerable groups, including the obese, those who had a family history of diabetes and ethnic groups predisposed to the condition.

Professor Alberti said: "Type 2 diabetes is not a 'mild' form of diabetes. More aggressive control of the whole blood glucose profile is essential if we are to prevent the life-threatening complications of diabetes."

At present, diabetes is the industrialised world's leading cause of blindness, renal disease and non-traumatic limb amputations.

Type 2 diabetes usually takes hold after the age of 40 and occurs when the pancreas can still produce some insulin, but not enough for the body's total needs. The disease increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by two or three fold and eight out of 10 people with the condition die from a cardiovascular disease.

At present, one in 20 European adults have Type 2 diabetes, which amounts to 22.5 million people. The symptoms include tiredness, blurred vision and an increased recurrence of minor infections.

The most severe symptom is an increased tendency towards atherosclerosis, a condition that gives patients a greater chance of developing high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

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